When you can’t believe Gandalf The Grey, who can you believe?

Just a week after actor Ian McKellen posted on his website that the two-part film adaptation of The Hobbit was to start shooting this summer, comes a slew of new evidence that the long-rumored delays with the film are indeed a reality.

We here at Screen Rant have seen the omens for sometime now; the current bankruptcy fiasco over at MGM (the studio releasing The Hobbit) has left us wondering about the fates of both Middle Earth and the James Bond franchise ever since 2010 began. Today we learned that James Bond 23 will be delayed by MGM’s financial troubles, now we’re hearing that The Hobbit is feeling the pinch as well.

Check out the mounting evidence as collected by The Playlist:

  • Digital Spy spoke to Any Serkis, the actor who provided the motion-capture performance that brought Gollum to such vivid life in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. In that discussion, Serkis dropped the news that The Hobbit would not be underway until the end of this year – almost six months behind schedule. Check out the interview with Serkis HERE.
  • Ian McKellen’s website has now been updated with the info that The Hobbit shoot will start “at a time to be announced.” A far cry from the June confirmation of last week.
  • Fansite The One Ring (which LOTR director Peter Jackson and Hobbit director Guillermo del Toro both visit), is claiming that The Hobbit has indeed been delayed, and that the culprit is none other than MGM and their current financial quagmire.

Speaking of MGM, last we reported the studio had entered a second rounding of bidding in its bankruptcy auction. Rival studios Lionsgate, Time Warner and Summit Entertainment were all invited into the second round of the auction, although Variety has reported that Lionsgate is now out of the auction and the other two studios are still unsure if MGM is worth the acquisition costs of approximately $2 billion. Not a frivolous chunk of change to spend on a failed studio with few viable properties.

Ironically enough, Time Warner has already stepped in to help MGM with The Hobbit, via Warner Bros.’ New Line imprint. New Line is shouldering the production costs of The Hobbit, and will undoubtedly reap some of the profit. Will Time Warner make a play for the entire Tolkien property? It’s not out of the realm of possibility, considering the bind MGM is currently in; it would also be a lot cheaper than purchasing the entire studio.

As for The Hobbit? Right now you should probably take any word of a production start deadline with a HUGE grain of salt – lest this become the next Captain America casting drama.

As I’ve said in virtually all of my MGM bankruptcy posts, the futures of both James Bond and The Hobbit are uncertain as long as MGM’s finances are in shambles. And once projects of this caliber keep getting delayed, cast and crew schedules start becoming an issue, directors get the itch to move on to other projects… Suffice to say, The Hobbit is currently staring down a slippery slope.

The good news? The continued vitality of both the Bond and Hobbit franchises could inspire the type of Hollywood greed (rival studios buying the properties) that is actually good for us moviegoers :-). Here’s hoping.

The Hobbit parts 1 and 2 will MAYBE be underway by the end of this year. If and when the movies are released is anybody’s guess at this point.

Sources: Digital Spy, The Playlist, The One Ring, Variety & Ian McKellen’s website